The potential for miscanthus to thrive in traditionally ‘problem fields’ is being showcased at a Lincolnshire farm at a Terravesta and Woldmarsh hosted event on October 13.
“In any arable crop rotation there are going to be problem fields,” according to Jim Beeden, manager of the host farm, Hackthorn, and Lincolnshire farms manager for Flagleaf Farming.
Flagleaf Farming is a group of farms in Lincolnshire, that provides men and machines to farm 10 different farm businesses totalling 2,832 hectares. “Of this we manage a total of 102 hectares of miscanthus, growing on marginal land, the oldest of which was planted in 2006.
“If they’re honest, a lot of arable farmers will be able to identify problem fields that aren’t making any money,” says Jim.
“To those farmers I’d say be frank with yourselves, and look at how much those problem fields are actually making you. The money made from fields that are only yielding seven tonnes per hectare of wheat are going to be sapping margins because the small profit they make will go back into the time and effort it takes to farm that land.
“The Terravesta and Woldmarsh hosted farm walk will showcase our set up at Hackthorn, Lincoln, and will allow farmers to find out whether miscanthus is a planting option for their difficult fields.
“Over this last year we’ve expanded so fast, adding a further 1,214 hectares to the land we manage and contract farm, and we’ve planted up an extra 36 hectares of miscanthus in these new areas this year.
“As we’ve grown, we’ve planted up more miscanthus, because it’s essential to our long term strategy.
“It allows us to farm the good land well, and make a profit on the poor land with the crop, because it thrives on it and requires very little time and input cost,” he says.
Jim has worked closely with Terravesta, the miscanthus specialists, since 2006. Terravesta organise the supply of rhizome to plant the crop, and buys back the bales destined for biomass pelleting, and they offer 10-year, RPIX-linked contracts.